Raising My Twins

It's what's on my mind.

Update On Four Meals, and a Recipe

on March 23, 2012

We’ve been adhering to a four-meal-per-day system for over a month now (read this post to see why we started it) and I have to say, it’s been a huge success. Not only is it easier for me to plan and serve four meals, rather than 3 meals plus 2 snacks (seems not a big difference, but it is…what can I say?) but the girls are hungrier at each meal, and so they eat more with less fuss.

I do not force anything on them. I give them three to four choices. Often they won’t eat one of them, and that’s okay. Because like every mom, I do have some go-to meals that I know give them their needed nutrition. This helps me to relax when they eat NO dinner, and that happens at least once a week because they don’t like what we’re eating (falafel, anyone?) Rachel always tries the food now, which is fun and encouraging, and if she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t eat more. Audrey will still size things up by how they look and sometimes reject without trying. But she’s slowly getting more willing to have a taste.

Dinner is always with us at the “dining room” table (it’s in the living room). And for this last meal, I’ve continued to offer whatever we eat to the girls, with occasional exceptions…lately we’ve eaten a lot of salads, and I don’t expect 22-month olds to eat those, so I offer them some components of the salad, like chicken and avocado, with, say, a quesadilla. At the end of every meal they get milk, in a regular, open cup. They love this part. They are getting really skilled at drinking this way. Rachel didn’t spill a drop of her OJ this morning!

Since starting the four-meal days, trips to restaurants are less stressful—they know what is happening (high chair always means meal time) and they are considerably more patient, as well as attentive to their food. It’s amazing! Truthfully, we have only put this to the test once since the last post, I think, but still…it was a good experience. They were amazingly well-behaved, and it was a somewhat-lingering dinner at our friends’ restaurant.

So the early benefits have lasted. I’m completely sold on it. Oh, one other thing: it matches with my philosophy of showing the girls that every family member’s needs and time are important. They are old enough to wait for their meals to come at predictable times, not demand that mom drop everything and get them a snack. (Not that they did that before, but they are under 2, and eating all day would seem to cultivate an appetite for immediate gratification eventually, and that’s something I don’t want them to grapple with any more than necessary.)

And now, here are some fun food standbys that make my life easier.

Rachel scarfs some "Half and Half Soup." Here's a tip on boxed organic soups: Imagine Foods has the lowest sugar content by far...much lower than Amy's.

The first is “half and half soup”—a lazy creation of mine that I think is fun. The girls like tomato soup by itself but they don’t like butternut squash soup as much, for instance. So I started getting them to eat a bit more of the latter by pouring yogurt on one side of the bowl and the soup on the other. And now I do this for tomato too, to cut the sodium down and give them more calcium and protein. And here’s the best part: I serve it cold…so I pour the sides simultaneously right out of the refrigerated cartons. So easy for mom!

And below is my recipe for Zucchini-Banana Bread (AllRecipes link—easier to print), which is quite beloved by my family and friends. I wanted a good snack to give the babes when they started eating solids, that didn’t contain too much sugar and did contain some protein, iron and vitamins. So I made batch after batch of zucchini bread with various modifications until I got some I really loved, and the girls always go for it. Now I usually make it in large batches of muffins and freeze them individually. It is lightly sweetened with molasses and bananas, and it’s egg-free (but not vegan) because little Audrey gets hives from eggs, sadly.

Often I make this lower fat by substituting apple sauce for half of the canola oil, and that’s how I’ll regularly make them when the girls are older. Also, if you don’t have that much zucchini, shredded carrot works great too!

Zucchini-Banana Muffins the whole family loves!

Low-Sugar Zucchini-Banana Bread


  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini


  1. Grease two 8 x 4 inch pans, or 4 mini loaf pans, or muffin tins. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, mashed bananas, molasses, yogurt and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Fold in zucchini and pour into pans.
  5. Bake for 50–55 minutes for 8 x 4 inch pans, 40–45 for mini-loaf pans. 25 minutes for muffins.

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